Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Well, it's been a busy few weeks.  Between work and finishing up my studying for the PHR exam, I haven't had a lot of free time.  Of course I still manage to make it out to the barn on Saturday mornings.  Since South Farm I've had some good rides on Naughtie, going to the combined test really did her a ton of good.  And then 3 Saturdays ago (June 11th) I got the chance to ride Bugsy again.

Bonnie had let Astrid ride him a few times and so she was riding in a lesson with Naughtie and I.  And when it came time to jump, Astrid decided that she didn't want to jump.  So Bonnie asked if I wanted to take him over a few fences.  Now I haven't been on Bugsy at all since like August.  But I was game to try him.  Astrid and I switched horses and she took Naughtie in to put away while I got used to Bugs again with a few circles.  Then we headed to the jump and it was so much fun!  It wasn't that big of a fence, only a baby oxer, maybe about 2 feet.  We jumped that a few times and then Bonnie bumped the back rail up a bit.  We didn't do much jumping that day, but it did remind me how much fun Bugsy is and what a blast it is to ride him.

Then I got to thinking.  I wasn't planning to ride in the Boyd Martin clinic this year.  I just couldn't justify spending the money.  But now after riding Bugs, I was itching to go.  So I got in touch with Therese from White North Stables and asked if it would be possible to ride just on Wednesday for cross country.  She said yes and so Bugsy and I will be strutting our stuff for Boyd!

As usual with me, I did take a step back when I rode Bugsy the next week.  I was getting him rushing into his fences and it was just bad in general.  So we scaled things back and went back to jumping cross bars.  We really concentrated on just taking my two point and keeping my legs light and not rushing.  And I got him back to a nice sane jump.  Unfortunately, ending a lesson with cross bars just a week and a half before I'm entered to ride Novice with Boyd is not really all that confidence inspiring.

So fast forward to this weekend.  I was determined to do better.  It ended up being a nice day at the barn, quiet, none of the kids ended up coming out.  So for a while it was just Bonnie and I, then Katie showed up after a while.  I tacked up Bugs and we headed out to the arena for a last lesson before the clinic.  And guess what?  Going back to cross bars the week before was exactly what I needed.  Bugs was listening to me, and I wasn't rushing him into the fences.  We worked up to an oxer that was just shy of 3'.  And then Bonnie added a 2nd fence as a one stride, set at just about 3'.  My first ever combination with Bugsy!  And we nailed it!  We ended the lesson with some canter work, which wasn't the best.  Bugs really needs the half halt before the canter and I was struggling with that a little.  Once again I've just gotten very complacent riding Kaye.  She knows what I want and just does it, regardless of what I'm doing.  Bugsy not so much.  He knows what I want, but he won't do it unless I ask for it right.  But overall, the lesson was great and I was feeling very well prepared for the clinic.

Then on Sunday I was able to get another ride.  So nice, it's been months since I've gotten to ride twice in the same week.  We warmed up on the flat first, including a bit of canter and well, the half halt lesson sank in and my departs were much, much better!  Then Bonnie had us start jumping.  We started out over the same oxer from the day before, novice height the first time.  Boyd won't start us out over little stuff, so need to at home.  The first fence wasn't perfect, but it was much better than I normally do over my first fence so I was pleased with that.  After we jumped the oxer a couple of times Bonnie decided to get creative.  She dragged over the piece of indoor/outdoor carpet and made a "coffin" with it.  She set it up one stride after the oxer and put a ground line to help Bugsy see it.  First time through the combination he did jump it.  Tried going through again and he figured out he could just canter over it.  Put a raised pole over the middle, and he still cantered over it.  So then Bonnie dragged another set of standards over and set up a 3' vertical one stride after the coffin.  Bugsy still just canter the coffin and then jumped the fence.  We tried to get him to actually jump it a couple more times, but no luck.  So we took a bit of a walk break and Bonnie set up a vertical over the carpet.  The last challenge of the day was 3' oxer, one stride to 3' vertical, one stride to 3' vertical.  First time doing a triple with Bugsy.  But Bugsy is awesome.  All I had to do was set him up and ride him to the first fence and then let him do his thing through the combination.  It was great!  Doing that with Bugsy was really just proving to myself how far I've come in my riding in the last couple of years.  It wasn't all that long ago that I was afraid to jump Bugs at all.  Let alone through a novice triple combination.  It was a great way to leave off before the clinic, I feel so ready to go and show Boyd what we can do!

Bugsy trying on his new ECOGOLD xc pad